At Monday night's Anchorage School Board meeting, members voted unanimously in assembling two ad hoc committees to look more in depth at school concerns. 

The first committee will look into students health, wellness, nutrition and learning. What this boils down to is grade school lunch and recess time.

Parents, students and community members have asked the school board to give grade school students more time. Currently, students only are allowed 40 to 45 minutes to both eat and play. Advocates want a full 60 minutes allotted for the students.

The second committee will look into the short-term and long-term plan of what to do with Eagle River and Chugiak students that have been displaced due to the Nov. 30 earthquake. 

600 Gruening Middle School students in Eagle River have been moved to Chugiak High School. They will remain there through the end of the current school year and for the full 2019-2020 year — a move some Chugiak students feel needs to change.

"While our system has been working, I don't know how much longer we can build our communities together," Chugiak High School senior Marta Ditzler said. "We have limited opportunities for both students, which is really sad." 

Missed opportunities are also being felt in Eagle River, where students from Eagle River Elementary have been relocated to three other schools in the area: Birchwood ABC, Ravenwood and Homestead. 

"It's not working," Birchwood ABC PTA President Valerie Davies said. "We need to come up with other alternatives for next year. It's not working for our students or for our staff. Birchwood is an alternative education program and our belief is higher standards for academics and behavior. Those are things that are not happening at Eagle River Elementary. It makes it hard to have their population of students intermixed with our student population." 

The Anchorage School Board vowed to do whatever it takes to make it work for the Chugiak and Eagle River communities.

"I want it to work, I just don't have the answers to do so," ASD Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop said. "It's going to take the people involved in the programs to work together to do this, but we are willing to do whatever it takes to have a successful year and preserve the academic and behavioral expectations at each of our schools."

Near the end of the board meeting, Anchorage School Board President Starr Marsett assembled the two ad hoc committees to solve the concerns the communities have. 

Board members Deena Mitchell and Mark Foster will co-chair the committee looking into grade school lunch and recess times. Board member Alisha Hilde was also added to the committee.

Heading the committee to solve the Eagle River and Chugiak school situation is board member Elisa Snelling. Snelling is joined by Mitchell and Foster will Starr Marsett also on the committees.

"Elisa will chair the school committee because she lives in the area," Marsett said. "We'll start getting to work next week because we don't have much time."

The committee has less than two month to devise a plan both for the short term and long term for the Eagle River and Chugiak communities. 

"We're up against it already," Marsett said. "We need to have something in to FEMA and we are going to need to community's help."

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